Thursday, June 30, 2011

Greatest Grid

An interesting competition I am ruminating on proposing for, The Greatest Grid - from the Architectural League of New York along with the Museum of the City of New York - seeks ideas related to the grid and to reflect on the role of the grid, now 200 years old, impacts and shapes New York, and how it has and will continue to shape the city.  Some background (and more on the site):  

"On the occasion of the two hundredth anniversary of the 1811 Commissioners’ Plan for New York, the foundational document that established the Manhattan street plan from Houston Street to 155th Street, the Architectural League invites architects, landscape architects, urban designers, and other design professionals to use the Manhattan street grid as a catalyst for thinking about the present and future of New York. For two centuries, the Manhattan street grid has demonstrated an astonishing flexibility to accommodate the architectural gestures and urban planning theories of successive generations of architects, urban designers, private developers, and city officials. Given its capacity for reinvention, how might the Manhattan grid continue to adapt and respond to the challenges and opportunities–both large and small–that New York faces now and into the future?"

Sort of open-ended, but the grid is such a powerful and contentious concept in both urban form (such as these studies on Planetizen here and here) and indeed the pattern of settlement for the western US.  While New York was not the first city to be 'gridded' it seems a fitting context for exploration of an idea - one that offers some interesting avenues for exploration beyond the Big Apple.  Coupled with some recent reading on Sanderson's work on Mannahatta Project - there could be some exciting potential overlaps/influences of the grid and nascent ecology of the island.

 :: image via Skyscraper Page

One of links on the competition site leads to the Wall Street Journal story on the birthday of the grid, with some collected maps worth checking out - my favorite is the sliced island by designer Nicholas Felton using the program Geocontext.

:: image via WSJ

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